Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Experiences Of Non-Traditional Law Deans And The Law Schools That Hire Them

Timothy Fisher (Dean, Connecticut (2013-2020); Google Scholar), Lessons Learned: The Experiences of Non-Traditional Law Deans and the Law Schools That Hire Them:, 72 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2024):

Journal of Legal Education (2024)Ten years ago, the United States legal academy confronted a surprising drop in student enrollment and corresponding financial pressures. Over the ensuing years most law schools recovered, albeit with significant trimming, and for the most part rebalanced their faculty and student body in a sustainable fashion. On today’s horizon, however, is a greater and more sustained threat. A shrunken student population pipeline has hit colleges and will soon reach law schools. Inflationary pressures on wages have risen, while students’ and parents’ tolerance for tuition increases may have peaked. These financial pressures will be greatest on “access” law schools – those with the fewest financial resources and whose students are likewise the least well off financially.

This article explores one strategy that a number of law schools employed when such a blow to their operations occurred in the recent past. Especially following the Great Recession of 2008 many law schools turned to non-traditional deans to help them navigate the unusual challenges they faced. What follows will examine the track record of that strategy and find lessons that may inform the choices of deans that law schools will be making in the coming years.

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